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Hello Hillsboro: Tigers are truly a great family
tigers basketball pep rally
After returning from the Kohl Center in Madison March 21, the Hillsboro Tigers boys basketball team and their fans celebrated the teams first appearance in the WIAA State Boys Basketball Championship. - photo by Jill Stekel photo

What a weekend for Hillsboro basketball fans!

The Tigers and Badgers put it all together in two great performances that thrilled their fans and, in one case rewrote the history books.

The exciting boys from Hillsboro traveled to Madison for the first time ever, and fought valiantly for the state championship.

That wasn’t to be, however, as they lost a tough, hard fought game to a Milwaukee-based private school team that would be more than a challenge to any Scenic Bluffs opponent. There is, of course, something to say about private, tuition scholarship recruiting teams competing with public school teams, but this isn’t the time or place.

Our Tigers played their hearts out and continued to show class at the Saturday afternoon rally in the Hillsboro High School (HHS) gym that was stuffed with appreciative fans.

Following a long tradition, the team arrived at the gym with a fire truck escort into town, sirens screaming, and through the parking lot. Trust me, there wasn’t one person in town who didn’t know where the fire was. It was in the hearts of the players and all their fans!

Everyone seemed to get into the act, with the Pep Band spreading spirit and joy over the fans, who didn’t really need any help in the cheering department.

One side of the gym featured fans totally packed basket-to-basket in bleachers facing a proud group of Tiger ballplayers and other personnel that absolutely couldn’t get enough of the cheers and seemed to hold perpetual smiles on their faces.

Many of them, like the players, had had also demonstrated their impressive spirit loud and clear at the Kohl Center in a “sea of orange,” thanks to special HHS shirts.

After a video presentation captured the excitement better than any TV station, a special highlight of the rally came when the Tiger players each enjoyed the chance to tell the fans their feelings on four subjects selected by the coaches.

Other than some laughs and a few rounds of applause, all the players did very well in the public speaking exercise with a few scoring 3-point plays.

It was apparent that the most important thing about the entire season was the undeniable feeling of “one big family.”  Several of them choked up and had trouble finishing their brief talk to the fans.

It’s obvious that they felt far more like brothers than teammates,  and that included  head coach Curt Hildreth.

He was very clear in telling the fans that the game was extremely important, but the players and himself were very proud of the entire season, the efforts that caused them to improve every game, and the friendships that are now sealed in memories that will be replayed in their thoughts forever.

Many fans, and players, walked out of the gymnasium with watery eyes and feelings of having attended a much better rally than they expected. My thoughts were clear.

Forget the scoreboard. This team will always be winners!